2 councilmen insist Leopold answer queries

March 05, 2009|By Tyeesha Dixon and Julie Scharper | Tyeesha Dixon and Julie Scharper,tyeesha.dixon@baltsun.com and julie.scharper@baltsun.com

Two Anne Arundel County councilmen said yesterday that, until County Executive John R. Leopold explains his actions on the evening that a police officer responding to a report of possible sexual activity in a mall parking lot found him in the back seat of his county-issued car, they will continue investigating the matter.

The councilmen, C. Edward Middlebrooks and G. James Benoit, also questioned why Leopold has made numerous calls from one of his two county-issued phones to the cell and home phones of a county employee during the past six months.

In a public meeting Tuesday, Middlebrooks referred to a county employee who he suggested was at the mall parking lot Jan. 30, but he did not name her. According to records obtained by The Baltimore Sun through a public information request, Leopold used one of the cell phones almost exclusively to call a county employee's cell. Leopold exchanged about 200 calls with that number between mid-September and mid-February.

Leopold spent more than 19 hours - 90 percent of the time he used the phone - on the phone with the employee's number.

The county employee, who does not work in Leopold's office, did not return calls for comment.

According to the records, the county executive exchanged four calls with the employee's phone on the day in question. He also phoned the number at 6:07 p.m., 20 minutes after police declared the call to the mall parking lot "unfounded," the records show.

"I think the phone records, when you look at all the other facts ... says it all," Middlebrooks said.

In a statement, Leopold described the attention surrounding the incident as a "political circus."

"I've spoken as much as I intend to speak on it," Leopold, who is unmarried, said yesterday when asked whether he would address the council. Through his spokesman, Leopold declined to comment on the phone records.

Col. James Teare Sr., the county police chief, told the council Tuesday that the officer followed proper procedure when responding to the anonymous 911 call. "Chief Teare's testimony speaks for itself," Leopold said in the statement. "Proper police procedure was followed, and an anonymous call was deemed unfounded. There is too much important work to be done in this county to engage any further in this political circus."

Middlebrooks, who like Leopold is a Republican, called the matter "an embarrassment." Benoit, a Democrat, said Leopold should address the matter directly.

Baltimore Sun reporter Nicole Fuller contributed to this article.

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